What to Expect for a First Time Hearing Aid User

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We know the thought of pursuing hearing aids as a first time user can be daunting and unfamiliar. Put your fears aside! We’re here to help reassure you and set some realistic expectations regarding the process of obtaining and adapting to your new devices.

Where to begin?

You’re probably here because you’ve been having some difficulty hearing lately. Maybe it has become a little more difficult to understand your partner at your favorite weekend restaurant? Or maybe it has been tougher understanding your grandchildren telling you all about their day? These are signs of possible untreated hearing loss, and the first step is diagnosing the problem. Scheduling a hearing evaluation with your local audiologist is a great place to start.

The hearing evaluation

Typically, your audiologist will go through some case history questions with you which include general questions about your perceived difficulty hearing and any relevant medical history. Once that is done, the hearing evaluation is performed. Generally, you will hear some sounds and words and give some responses when you hear them. I do not like to refer to this as a “test,” as the word “test” implies there are right and wrong answers. There are no right or wrong answers during a hearing evaluation. It is simply a matter of whether you hear the sounds or understand the words. If not, that is okay. Afterwards, your audiologist will go over the results with you. If you are a hearing aid candidate, they will go over the different amplification options that are available to you and make some recommendations for what may work best for your specific needs.

Which hearing aids are best for me?

Generally, there are two styles of hearing aids: custom hearing aids and behind the ear hearing aids. Custom hearing aids are molded specifically to the user’s ear using earmold impressions taken by your hearing care professional. All of the components of the hearing aid including the microphones and amplifier are housed within a custom molded shell that sits in the ear. Behind the ear hearing aids sit, you guessed it, behind the ear. The body houses most of the components of the hearing aid such as the microphones and the amplifier and sits on top of and behind the ear. The amplified signal is carried through the receiver wire or tube which runs down along the front of the ear and is attached to either a disposable ear tip or a custom mold which sits in the ear canal. Both styles are good options and your audiologist may recommend one over the other based on the configuration of your hearing loss, anatomical structure of the outer ear, middle ear conditions, etc. Much of the decision comes down to personal preference as well, though.

How have hearing aids evolved over the years?

Hearing aids look quite a bit different today than they have in the past. Most noticeably, they are a lot smaller than they used to be. Their slim profile provides comfort and discretion. With the right color, they can barely be seen at all! However, for those who want to flaunt their hearing aids, they also come in fun colors like red and blue. Technological improvements include better performance in noisy environments, feedback management (no more noisy squealing!), and more natural sound quality. Another cool feature is that they can be connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth which allows you to make adjustments to your hearing aids in addition to streaming audio such as phone calls and music.

What if I need help adjusting to my hearing aids?

It is totally normal to be taken aback by hearing aids when you first try them out. They are processing your auditory environment in an entirely different way than your brain has become accustomed to. It can even take a couple weeks for your brain to adjust to the new way it is processing auditory information. Initial follow up care is crucial to patient success. With prescription hearing aids, different adjustments can be made by your hearing care specialist in order to get you hearing as best as possible.

In conclusion…

For those with hearing loss, hearing aids can greatly improve your quality of life. It is best to amplify as early as possible to help keep the brain stimulated and strong. The only way to know if you qualify for hearing aids and what your best treatment options are is to get tested by your local audiologist. And remember, there is nothing to fear. We are here to help!